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|134 reviews in total|
It was well known that in the late 60's, famed Italian director Federico Fellini experiment with LSD. That's why "Juliet of the Spirits" was so bizarre and colorful. But the 1969 head trip "Fellini Satyricon" was even stranger than previous Fellini films. Loosely based on the novel by Petronius, the beginning of the story concerns two men in the B.C. Roman era fighting over the love of one boy. Later they have many strange and colorful misadventures. This film may be to bizarre for some; with its grotesque images, a mild orgy, dwarfs and even a hermaphrodite goddess. The set pieces are out of this world. It's like being caught in a two hour dream. Many times I had no idea what was going on, but that didn't bother me. Satyricon is a visual decadent head trip of color. Fellini considered this film a sci-fi of the past. I consider Fellini a genius; he's designed a film that makes a great substitute for drugs. If you enjoy "Fellini Satyricon" you should also watch Vera Chytilova's "Daisies" (1966), Alejandro Jodorowsky's "The Holy Mountain" (1973), Guy Maddin's "Careful" (1992) and Tsui Hark's "Green Snake". All of these film contain bright colors and surreal images. Enjoy!
Although I'm no fan of William Shakespeare, director Peter Greenaway has created a tour de force of sensual images and visual delights. Not since "Fellini Satyricon" or "The Holy Mountain"(1973) has the screen been filled with such visual excess. The movie is based on the play "the Tempest" and every character is narrated by one man. Although I never read the Tempest and had difficulty keeping up with the plot, I still enjoyed this movie. Surprisingly this was released by Miramax. Back when Miramax had balls they would distribute some amazing risk taking art films. They were the company that brought "The Cook the Thief his Wife and her Lover" to American audiences. This film probably contains the most full frontal nudity you'll ever see in an R-rated film. Literally 3/4 of the cast is naked. The nudity is not really arousing as it is more artistic and surreal. This film is like a Bosch painting come to life. So if you enjoy Shakespeare, Salvador Dali and Nudist films, you'll probably enjoy "Prospero's Books". The dialog gets boring after about the first twenty minutes, since it's all spoken by the main character. That didn't bother me, because Greenaway is a director who makes films about his obsessions and visions, regardless of what critics say. If you get board from the films narrative, the best thing to do is turn down the volume and play some Pink Floyd or whatever music you like. Some may find it pretentious, but to me it's an out of this world experience. The film's frame within frame visuals with lettering was later used in Greenaway's "Pillowbook" and "Tulse Luper Suitcases". So gather around a big screen T.V with some stoner friends, bring your favorite CD's and watch it along side "2001: A Space Oddesy". Fans of head trip films won't be disappointed.
"Tears of the black Tiger" is a one of a kind western from Thailand. In fact it's the only other film I have seen from Thailand besides "Last life in the Universe. Miramax owns the U.S rights to the film, but for some odd reason it was never released and continues to collect dust on their shelf. The film has a bright Technicolor style similar to "the Wizard of Oz" and Guy Maddin's "Careful". O.K., so take these bright surreal elements and add over the top Peckinpah / Pete Jackson style shoot outs, a romantic story and musical interludes. In other words, you're prepared for an experience that is out of this world.The best way to describe it is ... a hilarious and romantic candy colored spaghetti western with Asian cowboys and bloody shootouts. If you are searching for something completely different and original, you came to the right place.
What more could you want from a movie? Juraj Jakubisko is one of my favorite Eastern European directors. His films have elements of realism, surrealism, magic realism and comedy. "Post Coitum" is very different from his other films, in the fact that it's a sex tragic-comedy. There are five women and four men, who are very unsatisfied with life. They have casual sex which causes them to be more unhappy. All of the characters literally hook up and switch partners unknowingly. There's an aged hippie photographer (Franco Nero), the sweet virgin, a prostitute, an egotistical record producer and his humble wife, a married couple, a rock star and other assortment of Felliniesque characters. I'm surprised at the low ratings the film has got. The story fascinated me with its nine characters linked through their sex lives. "Post Coitum" is like an erotic slapstick version of "Magnolia", as filmed by Fellini. Some critics have labeled it another useless soft-core porno. I disagree. We've all seen horrible late night skin flix on pay for cable. The actors look and sound artificial. With "Post Coitum" it's refreshing to see actors who look natural and normal. The film has characters that feel real, and consequences that happen because of their selfish actions. Not only that, but the film was very funny, and experimental. It was filmed in high definition, and used fun camera tricks that were similar to ones used in Jakubisko's earlier work. It even throws in a little CGI effects for laughs. "Post Coitum" is both sexy and silly, tragic and enlightening and one heck of a fun film. It's Oh Ohhhhhh Ohhhhhhhhhhhh ohh so entertaining.
"El Topo", is probably Jodorowsky's most talked about film next to "Santa Sangre". Like all his films it is bizarre and full of symbolism. El Topo is a cowboy dressed in black. He is out for vengeance, kind of like the Biblical God of the old testament. Him and his son ride through a town of massacred civilians. He wants justice and to win the heart of a girl, Mara. He gives up his only son, in an act that could be looked at like God, or even Abraham. He has to kill seven master gunfighters. After all the violence and carnage, he is injured and taken under the care of cripples, dwarfs and other various misfits. He is reborn, almost like a Bhuddist monk. He becomes like the new testament God, Jesus Christ. El Topo is now like a savior to the oppressed. He vows to dig a tunnel out of the cave so the cripples can live among the villagers. The town is taken over by religious fanatics. Poor villagers are branded with the religious icon by force. An upper class of elitists now dominate the town. "El Topo" is beautiful, and chocked full of violent and disturbing imagery. The film became a popular cult sensation in the early 70's. It was embraced by the likes of John Lennon, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson, Peter Gabriel and Pink Floyd. More recently celebrities like Marilyn Manson and the Coen Brothers have talked about being strongly influenced by Jodorowsky's work. "El Topo" is important, because it was the first midnight movie. If people could forget about "the Rocky Horror Picture Show" just for a second, they'd realize that this is one of the most important cult films. A bizarre and surreal western that can never be imitated. The only 3 surreal westerns I can think of to pre-date "El Topo" that have many similarities are Brazilian director Glauber Rocha's "Black God, White Devil" (1964) and his follow up "Antonio Das Mortes" (1969) and the Italian Spaghetti western "Django, Kill if you Live, Shoot" (1967).
"Fando & Lis" is Alejandro Jodorowsky's first full length feature film. Like the 1930 film "L Age D Or", the 1967 premier at the Acapulco film festival in Mexico led to riots. The images shocked many viewers and Jodorowsky had to flee for his life. The film's story concerns Fando and his crippled girlfriend Lis. Fando is very cruel, but sometimes sympathetic. He pushes Lis around in a cart through many strange and surreal scenarios. We also witness flashbacks of Lis as a child loosing her innocents to the corruption of adults. Fando has flashbacks of his father and the soldiers which took his dad away from him. For the two main characters, it's a bizarre world gone mad. Fando & Lis are on a journey to the miraculous city of Tar. Lis is convinced she'll be healed of her physical disorder and able to walk again. This film is based on a short play by Fernado Arrabal. and at time feels like a follow up to the later filmed "Viva la Muerte". Although shot in B&W viewers are treated to many bizarre images including; a burning piano, body painting, drag queens, mud people and other assorted strangeness. "Fando & Lis" holds its place in the hall of fame of weird films. You must see it to believe it.
William Klien's late 60's flick "Mr. Freedom" is a satire on American culture. Some people will find it mean spirited, but I personally found it hilarious. It's a pretty good critique on America's foreign policy. Mr. Freedom is a tall, flag waving patriotic style superhero. He wheres a red, white and blue football uniform and is very racist, misogynist and an egomaniac. Kind of like the dumb high school jock, who picks on everyone. He is sent on a mission to stop the spread of communism in France. He must save people from his enemy, Red China man. In order to save France and force democracy on others, he literally rapes and destroys their country. Hmmmmm, isn't there a small middle eastern country that we've been doing the same thing to? Mr. Freedom has ridiculously bright patriotic colors and subversive humor galore. The costumes look like something from a drugged out 70's children's show. Many people may feel outraged at the films satirical elements. To me, the movie was hilarious. It's a great laugh when living in these troubled times. Look for a cameo by Donald Pleasence of "Halloween". And who can forget the Mr. Freedom theme song? (Hurray for freedom, for one and for all... It's you and meet em and ten foot tall...) F-R-(double E)-D- D-O-M spells FREE-DOM and you'll notice the film puts an emphasis on DOM(dumb). Enjoy Mr. Freedom, I did!
Oldrich Lipsky was a Czech director who was well known in his country for unique bizarre comedies. Silly, wacky and crazy are just a couple words to describe his films. "Lemonade Joe" is a musical western comedy. It's a fun parody that pays homage to the old west, and is filmed in awesome sepia tones. The movie makes many jokes and references to western culture, such as the town name of Stenson City. I love how over the top the film is. Great music, bar fights, slapstick and cartoonish gunfights. Lemonade Joe knows that alcohol will ruin his ability to shoot, so that's why he enjoys Kola-Loka Lemonade. Did I mention the film has hot and voluptuous Czech actresses. Eastern Europe women rock!(dobre) You must Czech out Lemonade Joe. For more Lipsky madness also watch "Dinner for Adele".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Goodbye 20th Century" is a unique, surreal and visionary film that's divided into three parts. The film's three stories take place in the future, past and the end of the twentieth century. Some parts reminded me of El Topo. Imagine, if you will, Road Warrior and Christmas Evil filmed by Kusterica and Jodorowsky. This was the first film I have ever seen from the country of Macedonia, and because of its atmosphere; it takes its viewers to another dimension. The two directors combine elements of mysticism, gypsy folk lore, sci-fi and surrealism for a bleak and bizarre view of the future. The first part of the film takes place in the 2019. A man is to be executed at gunpoint. Even when repeatedly shot at, the man cannot die. He continues to live. We later learn that he was cursed for having sex with a saint. He was impotent and could only get it up for this woman. The curse causes the town's children to die. He is now forced to go on living. A mysterious immortal prophet tells him a way to break the curse. There is also Lynch like elements such as a crazed green haired joker in the film who looks straight out of a batman comic. I know, it sounds strange. The bizarre costumes and abandoned environment is in a cinematic category of its own. The second part of the film takes place in the 1900's, Where we witness the first incestuous marriage and murder to be caught on camera. And finally, the film dives into the present which is New Years Eve, before the year 2000. A man in a Santa suit goes crazy at a funeral, or is it the family who's crazy along with their coke addicted relatives and farting grandmother. This is the chaotic event (not Y2K) that leads the world to a bleak future. This film defies description. "Goodbye 20th Century needs to be released on DVD. The low VHS quality doesn't do it justice. On another note, God can only imagine the horror stories that people could tell about living in war torn Macedonia. So the film may feel irrelevant to some western viewers. If you enjoy the films of Jodorowsky, Arrabal, Zulawski and Kusturica, then "Goodbye 20th Century" is for you. It would make a good triple feature with "The Holy Mountain" and Tekeshi Miike's "Izo" since all films have bizarre mystical imagery. And Remember, The future is as screwed up as the past.
"Erendira" is a film from Mexico that is rarely talked about. The film only exists in a low quality VHS format. It's a shame this film hasn't been given a DVD release. "Erendira" is stunning and gorgeous with its magic-realist images. "Erendira" is based on a short story from the novel "100 Years of Solitude". Erendira is constantly daydreaming and accidentally burns down her grandma's house. Her evil grandma, played by Irene Papas, forces her into prostitution to pay for the damages. The whole town gets a piece of Erendira, so to speak. Although the subject matter sounds harsh, the film doesn't exploit sexuality. It's done in a mature artistic manner. The film also has some amazing costumes. Some of the more surreal aspects of the film that stand out the most, are the origami birds that morph into real birds, and a golden orange with a diamond in the center. Erendira is an amazing film, that even manages to throw in humor. This is definitely a film that deserves a special DVD release. As they'd say in espanol, "Es muy muy bien !!! Excellente!
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